Stroger staffer defends herself, contract

May 13, 2010 4:46:05 AM PDT
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger's deputy chief of staff spoke with ABC7 about claims she steered a nearly $25,000 contract to herself while she was on the county payroll.

Carla Oglesby returned to work Tuesday after serving a five-day suspension.

President Stroger says she's a key member of his administration, but county commissioners are outraged Oglesby continues to earn her salary while she's being investigated for double dipping.

"I think working for President Stroger period is a political liability, how about that?" said Oglesby.

Fresh from a five day suspension, and with the blessing of her boss, Oglesby is defending herself and her choices, which include inter-twining politics, government work and personal profit.

This winter, far behind in the polls, Stroger hired Oglesby to be his campaign's communications director. Days before Stroger lost his re-election bid, the board president's office gave Oglesby's firm, CGC Communications, a $24,975 no-bid country contract. Her firm was tasked with informing county residents they may be eligible for government money after a flood.

"The fact that I own CGC Communications has never been a secret," said Oglesby.

A few weeks later, Stroger hired Oglesby to be his deputy chief of staff and gave her a six-figure salary. She'd only been on the job a few days when she was among those who signed-off on the county contract and collected the check for her firm.

On Wednesday Oglesby said she sees nothing unethical about it.

"You certainly can be working on a campaign or for any other client and be working for the county on a project. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that and certainly nothing illegal about that," said Oglesby.

President Stroger originally said Oglesby would remain suspended without pay pending the outcome of an Inspector General's report. But on Tuesday, he stunned critics by putting her back on the payroll.

"It defies common sense. I think he thinks he can do whatever he wants at this point," said Commissioner Tim Schneider, (R) Bartlett, last night.

"If this situation comes up again, would I do it? No I wouldn't do it because all this hoopla started," said Oglesby.

Oglesby was paid upfront for this county contract. She says her firm completed the required work last month. She now says she won't take a profit from her company this year to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

The Cook County inspector general confirmed to me today that his investigation into this contract and others "continues."


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